Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Melophone -- a (baby) grand pretender!

If it's true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then unlicensed knockoffs of the Stylophone are evidence of its popularity and success. A few months ago, I found this colorful, vintage styloclone on eBay.


Rather that dutifully copy the official Stylophone design, the Taiwanese manufacturer of the "Melophone" made some rather clever tweaks. I find the baby grand piano shape of the cabinet both cute and kind of hilarious.  It makes me imagine a full-sized piano with metal keys and a stylus the size of a pool cue!

This model also features a rather prominently mounted combination on/off/volume rotary switch. I find it easier to use than comparable rotary switches on some of the official Stylophones of the same era, but it kind of disrupts the piano motif.


And the sound?  Well, not so good.  The basic tone is fine, but there's no vibrato switch, and a few of the keys are rather out-of-tune.  That could just be due to age, though.

Now I just need to find a tiny candelabra.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Sprechen Sie Stylophone?

Wie geht's! 

It has been awhile since I've posted an item from the Stylophone museum. This time, I have an interesting box.

During the first incarnation of the Dubreq company, their celebrity spokesperson for the Stylophone in Germany was a jazz musician and TV and radio personality named William "Bill" McReery Ramsey. 





Bill Ramsey was actually born in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, but he became a famous musical entertainer in Germany while serving at a US Armed Forces Network radio station in Frankfurt in the early 1950s. You can read his bio on his official website at www.ramsey.de.

Bill appeared on at least one version of the Stylophone packaging.  The box in my collection is not in very good shape, but I hope you enjoy seeing these photos.




My knowledge of German is both limited and a bit rusty, but I think the text below very loosely translates to something like "Guaranteed: You can be playing simple tunes in 10 minutes. Everyone can play, even if you don't know how to read sheet music."



When I bought this box (which happened to have a Stylophone in it) I didn't get a copy of the vinyl record.  So, I don't know if Bill replaces the voice of Rolf Harris. I did, however, get the instruction book that included Stylophone sheet music for some German folk tunes.  Last year the folks at Dubreq gave me permission to post the sheet music on-line, but I didn't get around to it until now.  I've enlarged it to fit 8.5x11 paper. You can view and download the .pdf at this link. If the link doesn't work for you, send me a note and I'll get you a copy.

Tschüß!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Stylophone GEN R-8 at the NAMM Show - Sunday

Just to be a completist, here's one last blog post about my trip to Anaheim to help the folks from Dubreq promote their new Stylophone GEN R-8 analog synthesizer.


Sunday was the final day of the convention. I felt like I was moving in slow-motion all day. I was sore and exhausted from days of standing for hours, walking long distances, relentless noise, and lack of sleep. The crowds had thinned significantly, so I took the day off from the Dubreq booth. I made one last stop at the nearby booth of the Bob Moog Foundation to say goodbye to my friends there, and to check out their vintage modular synth one last time.


Then I continued my search for affordable studio microphones that I could tell my voice acting students about in my upcoming workshop at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. With the increased interest in podcasting and DIY music recording, the manufacturers have responded with lots of great gear.


I spent my last half hour or so back at the Dubreq booth with Marcella and John. It was a pleasure to work with them and to witness both their enthusiasm for Stylophone products and their appreciation for Stylophone enthusiasts. I am so glad I had this opportunity to help spread the word about Dubreq and their entire Stylophone product line.


After final goodbyes with Marcella and John, I called the cab driver who had given me a ride Saturday night. He picked me up outside the convention center and we talked about music and audio recording almost all the way to the airport.